Learning In Unlikely Places – Harnessing YouTube For Quarantine Schooling

YouTube Learning

I want to go on record as saying YouTube has educational value.  Sure, YouTube can be a black hole of consumerism where your children get sucked into endlessly watching strangers open up toys, eat odd foods, or go to random kiddie play places.  But, if you totally ban YouTube you are missing out on a useful academic resource.  In this time of quarantined education, I recommend you check it out.   Here are some songs and videos to mix into your homeschool day sorted by category.  


Fifty Nifty United States: Like most, I learned this one in elementary school, and it has served me well ever since. It’s a sweet little melody, and you will easily be able to name all 50 states in alphabetical order.  You have no idea how often that trivia skill comes in handy.  My third child began singing this song when he was 2.  

While knowing the states in order might not appear to be an extremely useful skill, this song is creating a “state schema” in young children. Schema is educational speak for a mental framework.  It is the laying of a foundation for children will build all further knowledge upon.  Once children realize states exist they will begin to notice them everywhere.  They will realize that countries are split into sections.  They will hear about a state on the news and have a sense of what is being discussed.  

Wakko’s 50 States and their Capitals

Animaniacs fans will remember this one.  Loveable little Wakko Warner sings all 50 states and their capitals in this ridiculously catchy tune.  

States and Capitals Song by Musical Stew

My three-year-old calls this one “crazy states.”  It is odd, but he adores watching the states go flying through the air.  

Tour the States – Official Music Video

This video features a song, but while the song is being sung there is an artist drawing a ridiculously accurate and detailed map along with the lyrics.  It is impressive.  But wait, there is more-they also have a Tour the World song


Skip Counting

I really like to use music to teach children to skip count.  Skip counting is a really useful skill when teaching multiplication.  I have already shared that I like to go old’ school with School House Rock for counting by 3.  For numbers 4-9 I like the songs done by Have Fun Teaching.  


The Bazillions has a slow swinging song about perimeter and area.  

Basic skills 

For preschool basic math skills you can’t go wrong with Umizoomi.  This show is academic gold.  Your children develop basic number sense, number recognition, counting skills, 2-D and 3-D shape recognition all while enjoying 3 tiny characters do good deeds to save the day.   You can find some random clips on You Tube like the link above, but if you are looking for some prolonged guilt free alone time tune into Prime Video.  They have seasons 1-3 available for free.  


Leap Frogs Letter Factory.  This show features adorable talking letters that are created in a letter factory owned by a family of anthropomorphized frogs.  (Don’t over think it, just go with it.) The youngest frog takes a tour of the factory and learns every letter.  I started showing this to my kids when they were 2, and they could recognize all their letters and identify their sounds before they turned 3 1/2.  If that sounds like bragging, I’m sorry-but it is also confession that their learning wasn’t a credit to my superior teaching skills, just the fact that they really liked this video. The link above is to rent or buy the full version on YouTube.